Are there some new products in the pipeline as business manufacturing increases its R&D spend?

By Peter Kerr 29/03/2011

Considering that the time period for the R&D survey mostly coincides with the global financial crisis, you’d have to be pretty pleased with the nation’s 13% increase between 2008 and 2010.

During the 2010 reference year, Stats NZ reckons the total R&D spend was $2,444 million. The split between sectors was business at $1,013m, government $629m and universities (though why this doesn’t come under government is slightly strange) $802m.

The original statistics are here.

Services, particularly computer and other, lifted R&D by 18% to $481 in the 2010, reflecting some of the strong below the headlines work that happens in this area. It would be interesting to know the strength from Wellington’s ICT sector in this increase.

Minister of Science and Innovation, Wayne Mapp, was pretty pleased to announce at last week’s NZBio conference dinner (where LanzaTech cleaned up the major prizes of the year) that total R&D spend now represents 1.3% of the country’s GDP.

Its well below the often documented and desired 2.5%, but up from 1.19% in 2008. Mapp was especially pleased to see the private sector increasing its R&D contribution more than the government.

Sometimes it is difficult to compare private sector R&D spend between countries, and apparently often NZ businesses don’t include items under such a spending column, but by comparison, the OECD national average R&D spend in 2008 was 2.33%.

The largest proportion of NZ’s science research spend was in manufacturing at 18% or $449m. Interestingly, the private sector carried out most of this – 16%.

If you were a betting man, you’d have to hope that this implies there’s a few interesting products about to emerge from this sector. They’re not in the habit of spending for no particular reason – and a recession’s as good a time as any to dust off an idea or two that may’ve been lurking.